Vertu Motors, the motor retail network including Bristol Street and Macklin Motors, has announced half-year pre-tax profit of £5.2m, a year-on-year rise of 26.8%, and predicted year-end profit to be ‘ahead of expectations’.

Robert Forrester, chief executive of Vertu, attributed the success to improved market conditions pushing up new and used sales for the group, reflected in the 7.6% rise in underlying revenue, as well as aftersales now "consistently delivering growth of revenues and profits".

However, Forrester repeated the warning from Vertu chairman Paul Williams in July that pre-registration figures were distorting true new car sales.

Revenue, to the end of August, was up 14.8% on the same period 2011 to £628.1m, with £3.8m contributed by acquisitions in the period. Vertu acquired a further 10 outlets since its last report, taking its total to 86, from 70 dealer locations.

Vehicle margins were consistent at 7.2% although aftersales margins declined for the group and overall gross margins dropped 0.2 percentage points to 11.4%.

Invigorated market

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Such a result comes on the back of an invigorated motor retail market in 2012 including new registrations for plate-change months March and September up year-on-year by 1.8% and 8.2% respectively.

On the back of these figures, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has twice revised upward its expectations for total new sales, now forecasting 1.97m sales in 2012, and dealers have spoken to Motor Finance of their confidence around September and the fourth quarter.

The results contrast with this time last year when Vertu reported pre-tax profit down by 16% to £4.1m, with revenue falling 4.5%, in the half-year financial results to August 2011.